tl;dr Is there a generic guide to set up GNOME background services to work with Awesome WM on any Ubuntu?

The official guide doesn't seem to have been updated since Ubuntu 11.10. Another guide is slightly more up to date, but after upgrading to 12.10:

  1. GNOME panels on the top and bottom of the first monitor. They shouldn't be there.
  2. Awesome WM background image.
  3. Awesome panels on the second monitor.
  4. Awesome controls work (Mod4+number to go to tag, etc.).

After upgrading to 13.04 today it's even worse:

  1. GNOME panels on the top and bottom of the first monitor. Still shouldn't be there.
  2. No panels on the second monitor.
  3. Awesome WM background image.
  4. feh error message when logging in even though it is installed. Sorry, can't copy it here since I can't reproduce (see below).
  5. Windows are placed at X=0 and Y=something like -10 (the window title bars are about 90% offscreen). This means I can't access the menu in the top panel without closing all open applications (since they can't be moved by dragging with either Mod4 or Meta held down).
  6. Some GNOME keyboard shortcuts work (Ctrl+Meta+Del, Ctrl+Meta+t), but not others (Meta+F1).
  7. No Awesome keyboard or mouse controls work (Mod4+number, Mod4+Enter, Mod4+mouse drag).

Points 3 and 4 only happened the first time after rebooting into 13.04; on the second login I get the Ubuntu background image and no feh error message.

The command I cobbled together to setup "Awesome GNOME" based on the guide (reformatted for readability):

sudo sh -c '
apt-get install awesome awesome-extra gnome-session-fallback notification-daemon && \
printf "%s\n" "[Desktop Entry]" "Version=1.0" "Type=Application" "Name=awesome" "TryExec=awesome" "Exec=awesome" | tee /usr/share/applications/awesome.desktop && \
printf "%s\n" "[Desktop Entry]" "Name=Gnome with Awesome" "Comment=Gnome with Awesome as window manager" "TryExec=gnome-session" "Exec=gnome-session --session=awesome" "Type=Application" | tee /usr/share/xsessions/gnome-awesome.desktop && \
printf "%s\n" "[GNOME Session]" "Name=Awesome" "RequiredComponents=gnome-panel;gnome-settings-daemon;" "RequiredProviders=windowmanager;notifications;" "DefaultProvider-windowmanager=awesome" "DefaultProvider-notifications=notification-daemon" | tee /usr/share/gnome-session/sessions/awesome.session'

@RolandSommer's answer fixed most of the issues. In the meantime I worked around a crash by commenting out all awful.util.spawn entries.

2 Answers 2


You have gnome-panel as requirement in your session description, so you are actually requesting the panels to be there.

Besides the gnome-panel-requirements I use the exact same setup within Ubuntu 13.04 and it works perfect.





and you are set.

  • Fixes all the problems except the feh error messages, which I can totally live with.
    – l0b0
    May 16, 2013 at 20:15

About feh error message: Try to change theme.wallpaper_cmd in your theme.lua to { "" }. Gnome services will set wallpaper for you without any help (at least it works in 12.10)

  • Actually, i just found better solution to solve wallpaper problem: you need to disable nautilus desktop handling, so it will stop conflicting with feh on first startup askubuntu.com/questions/84847/…
    – dlussky
    May 25, 2013 at 23:56

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